On the Arrogant Writer

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Don’t you think it is incongruous to accuse a writer of “arrogance” or being “egotistical” about a fiction he has written? Of course he knows that he knows his book better than you ever will. And what on earth is a book of fiction but the supreme creation of ego? Aren’t you far wrong to expect it to be otherwise?

Yet I hear these two words uttered as accusations!

There are few things a craftsman can be arrogant about and one of these is the work of his hands. Expect no prevarication from me on what I have done, I am confident about it, confident enough to give it to you to test and appraise it. In giving it to you, you get the right to appraise, you get a universal lease on it. But never forget that you are entering my world, not the other way around.

 

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On Originality versus Authenticity

I am thinking about cliquey minded collectives and how interesting that, for purposes of psychology alone of course, a certain sort of artist cannot find validation in how well they pour themselves into their work. A lot of Nigeria’s young artists, in writing especially, posses talent but are lacking in authenticity, yet authenticity is what endures, for it is not a thing to be considered to be acknowledged by a fellow artist or a consumer of art. It is de-facto and in your face. It is not the same thing as talent, which merely produces some sort of original work.

Authenticity is what is there beneath the words, as potent as a slap or the hiss of a rattlesnake. It is the sense, for want of a better word, that gives a moral core to an artist. A moral core has nothing to do with morality. Cliquey minded collectives may produce original work, in literature and even art, but never authentic work. For the artists themselves are defective.

But then, there have been some for whom the lesser rung, mere originality or even less than this, is enough. To these unfortunates I say the salaam of politeness only.

The Intelligence of Religious Robots

Gimba Kakanda's Blog

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There is nothing as torturous, in both academic and literary exercises, as interpreting plain sentences to literate people. Such tortures are not as a result of the energy one burns in the process, but in realising that a people who ought to be tasked with educating the one-dimensional followers of a misunderstood religion are actually the dangers beckoning immediate attention—and salvation! My last week’s column, “Allah is also African”, was, perhaps deliberately, read upside down by those whose brilliance picked out that I refer to Allah as a “dark-skinned being.” That’s what they got from the symbolism!

The comparison of Salafism and Sufism was simply to show us the good neighbours between the two groups. My arguments were a clear and direct condemnation of African Salafists’ campaigns of ultraconservatism, which has given birth to evils already growing fangs that will in maturity bite and consume the black race in one…

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On Perception and Criticism

“I think gender probably plays a bigger role in how critics read than in how writers write.”

– Chimamanda Adichie.

Very perceptive opinion here, I’d go to say the same of ethnicity and religion. Writers are less concerned about these in themselves when they write than are their critics. One just writes and leaves the curious sociology of one’s words to others frankly less competent that we who create.

This inability to stand away from one’s biases is an indictment of second-rate criticism, and to flaunt one’s biases is the hallmark of the worst sort of philistinism there is. Sadly, both these are prevalent critical posturings. The writer must accept the possibility of meeting with these as yet another burden; which is why the text must be the child of the finest labour of love its creator can manage.

On Being Desired

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To desire someone is to seek to force them, perhaps induce is a better word, to run the risk of significance. It is to stand before them naked and say–I want you to change my eyes and the course of my story.

For the one desired, to consider running this risk is a question of responsibility, though some have been reckless in this. It’s a question of responsibility precisely because beneath the calm

green of desire are the more probing questions of who we are, what we are about and of the sort of person we are without our cloths of conventions on.”

– Richard Ali.

Carnival Fever

Moonchild's Temple

Barranquilla’s annual carnival is one of the biggest in the world and has been going on for as long as anyone can remember. One Colombian’s hunts for her costume makes for interesting reading. Shadia Cure, 28, has a dilemma. She needs a costume for the annual Barranquilla carnival, one of the biggest in the world. The theme for her costume for this year is ‘shout’. But she doesn’t know precisely what her costume is going to look like. In fact, she has no idea. And in her halting English, pausing every now and then to find the right word, she describes her head gear (the only things she is certain about). It is elaborate, with many sides. But she is not sure what she would wear with it that will fully express her theme. “I want to release some demons,” she says and laughs. So she has been going about Barranquilla with…

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